First Aid for Injuries in Redding
Therapeutically there are many potential benefits with simple homecare measures, especially if performed soon after an injury. However, first a few basic principles.
Acute Versus Chronic Pain
Because there are distinct physiological differences between acute (new injury) and chronic pain (old injury), different treatment modalities are utilized for these two very different conditions.
If your pain complaint is chronic in nature, please refer to the "Chronic Pain" section of this web site for further instruction. However, if your injury is acute in nature as outlined below or is a sudden flare-up of a chronic or recurrent condition please refer to the following information as guidance.
Acute pain is usually associated with injury. But whether associated with injury or simply after some trivial event pain, tenderness, redness, swelling and inflammation is usually found at the site of pain. Please consider the following principles when self treating your pain complaints with homecare measures.
Following onset of acute pain especially following injury, a good rule to follow for first-aid is the mnemonic RICE:
(R) Rest the Injury
(I) Ice-the injury
(C) Compress the Injury
(E) Elevate the Injury (when arm/leg injury is involved)
In a world of sophisticated healthcare, a simple ice massage can still be one of the most effective, proven methods to treat injury, either when used alone or in combination with other therapies.
- Ice therapy is most effective within the first 48-72 hours following onset of pain.
- Ice therapy is therapeutically effective because it slows the inflammation and swelling that occurs after injury. Simply stated, reducing inflammation helps reduce the pain.
- Ice therapy also numbs sore muscles (providing pain relief like local anesthetic).
- Ice therapy also slows the nerve impulses in the area, which interrupts the nervous systems pain spasm reaction.
Ice therapy can either be applied by placing a wet towel over the area of injury and a plastic bag full of ice over it for 15 minutes or ice massage can be performed to the injured area with slow, circular strokes using ice cubes or frozen water in a paper cup for 5-10 minutes.
Some precautions are necessary when treating an injury with ice. Do not leave ice directly on the skin. To avoid skin damage, stop icing once the skin is numb.
When applying ice therapy you may notice the following symptom expression:
There are four official stages to icing. The first stages cold, the second stage is burning/pricking, the third stages aching, which can sometimes hurt worse than the pain. The fourth and most important stage is numbness. As soon as this stage is achieved, remove the ice. Time duration depends upon body weight but should never exceed 15 minutes.
Heat therapy is generally used for chronic pain (pain of several months duration) but may be used in acute injury when pain, inflammation and swelling is at a minimum with the following benefits:
- Heat therapy dialects the blood vessels of the muscles surrounding the injured area. This process increases the pool of oxygen and nutrients to the injury site and helps wash away any lingering tissue irritants.
- Heat stimulates the sensory receptors on the skin, which means that applying heat to the area of injury will decrease transmissions of pain signals to the brain and partially relieve the discomfort.
- Heat application facilitates stretching the soft tissues around the joints, including muscles, connective tissue, and adhesions. Consequently, with heat therapy, there will be a decrease in stiffness, with an increase in flexibility and overall feeling of comfort. A return of complete flexibility is very important.
The application of heat should be limited to 20 minutes, 2-3 times daily. Moist heat is best, so try using a hot wet towel. You can purchase special hot packs or heating pads if you use heat often.
One Final Recommendation
Home therapies can be used in combination with over-the-counter pharmaceuticals to reduce pain as directed. As a general rule, as pain complaints settle you should slowly normalize your activities of daily living and work tasks, as tolerated. Please refer to the "exercise" section of this web site for further instruction.